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Staging The Triwizard Tournament
Production on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire commenced in late Spring 2004 at Leavesden Studios, Herfordshire, England. After filming at Leavesden and locations including Oxford University, Virginia Water in Surrey, Ashridge in Hertfordshire and Glen Nevis in Scotland, production wrapped in March 2005. Perhaps the greatest challenge of the production was bringing to life the three thrilling and treacherous phases, or "tasks,” of the Triwizard Tournament

The first task pits each champion against a different breed of dragon. The competitors must recover a golden egg nesting under their gigantic reptile's protection. As fate would have it, Harry draws the most fearsome dragon of all – the Hungarian Horntail.

This exhilarating sequence begins in an arena carved into the rocky Scottish landscape. The sprawling set, which evokes the look of a quarry crossed with a medieval bullring, was built in two parts at Leavesden Studios

"It was one of the biggest sets we've ever built for any of the films, but when you're battling a dragon you need space,” notes production designer Stuart Craig, a three-time Academy Award winner (The Englilsh Patient, Dangerous Liaisons, Gandhi) who received an Oscar nomination for his work on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. "Also, we didn't just confine the chase to arena. We decided to make full use of the magnificent backdrop of the Scottish Highlands.”

"We've taken the dragon chase well beyond the book,” visual effects supervisor Jimmy Mitchell elaborates. "We really show Harry's prowess on a broom as the Horntail chases him out of the arena and up through mountains, viaducts and rooftops, and all across the school grounds.”

Craig and Mitchell collaborated on the design of the ferocious Horntail, an ill-tempered creature bedecked with a spiked hide. "Stuart and I discussed the design of the Horntail at length,” Mitchell says. "Should it be a quadraped or a biped with wings? Because dragons are so closely associated with dinosaurs, we decided to give it a raptor-like physique with bat wings. Then we aged it and tore up its wings to make it look like a creature that had lived for a great number of years.”

As Mitchell and his team were creating the computer generated Horntail, special effects supervisor John Richardson and creature effects & makeup supervisor Nick Dudman designed and built a "practical dragon” – a 40 foot long animatronic beast equipped with a fully operational flamethrower

"The dragon operates through a combination of animatronics and people manuevering it manually under the wings,” Dudman says of the creature, which appears in the scene where Hagrid leads Harry to the forest one night before the tournament to warn him about the dragons. "The movement is computerized for safety, as the flamethrower has a range of 30 feet. At that distance, just one minute jolt could barbeque half the stunt team!” "We carried out a lot of tests with the flamethrower,” Richardson reports. "We had so many considerations, not least of which was ensuring the safety of everyone on set. For example, you have to be aware of a backdraft, as flame can attack you from any angle.”

Harry's epic battle with the Horntail required Daniel Radcliffe to be hurled around and dangled off of rooftops as his alter ego is pursued by the relentless reptile. "The dragon battle was very physical and even terrifying at times!” Radcliffe says. "When we were doing the stunt where Harry falls down the roof, I found myself literally dangled by my ankles, hanging upside down 40 feet in the air. Then I was dropped suddenly and hurtled head first toward the ground. I knew it was safe because our stunt team is so brilliant. But I did feel my life flashing before my eyes for a second!” 

The champions face even greater danger in the second task, which demands they locate and rescue a love

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